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Leaders Can’t Wait for a Clear Picture to Make Decisions.

I started reading Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’ve seen enough to recommend this one. It’s dripping with great nuggets, and author Robert Sutton has worked really hard to include powerful stories from the field, including this great story from Andy Grove:

Andy Grove was tremendously successful as Intel’s CEO. Growth and earnings went through the roof during his tenure. He was selected Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1997. Grove is one of the most blunt executives I’ve ever met. In 2002, I was at a conference in Silicon Valley where Andy was interviewed by Harvard’s Clay Christensen. Clay asked Andy how leaders could act and feel confident despite their doubts. Andy began by talking about the Sopranos TV show and how intrigued he was by fictional mob boss Tony Soprano’s struggles. The messes that Tony dealt with week after week included turf wars, unexpected hits on Tony’s people, bad decisions, emotionally unstable subordinates, and Uncle Junior, who kept undermining his authority and trust. Andy commented that although Soprano’s product was different from Intel’s, “anybody in this room could very easily relate” to his daily struggles to maintain control.

After the laughter died down, Andy said, “Investment decisions or personnel decisions and prioritization don’t wait for that picture to be clarified. You have to make them when you have to make them. So you take your shots and clean up the bad ones later.”

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(Updated) My Social Entrepreneur Identity Crisis… And, Philanthropy is Sustainable

I’ve just returned from a trip to Ireland. I had a number of great meetings with social entrepreneurs and conversations about ‘social entrepreneurship’.

In Ireland and certainly here in the states, I think Social Entrepreneurship still represents TWO frames. The first is having to do with earned income. (I’m reposting thoughts from 2008 below)

The second frame is more broad. It represents the entrepreneurial attitude for change or impact.  It’s this second definition that I like and it’s also this second frame that is starting to define the social sector. Go to a nonprofit conference and notice the average age. Then go to a similar conference organized for ‘social entrepreneurs’ and again, note the average age.

We’re obviously fans of the social entrepreneurship because the very term invites challenging thinking and norms. That being said, I don’t think one room (or conference) is superior to another in terms of commitment or values. It’s worth noting that the conversation-at-large is generationally shifting. If it weren’t for the IRS I could argue that in 30 years we might not have a ‘non profit sector’; it might become the ‘social (entrepreneurship) sector’.

 

Original Post, December 11, 2008: My Social Entrepreneur Identity Crisis… And, Philanthropy is Sustainable

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Commitment to Contribution

I was re-reading some passages from Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive. He has a chapter on CONTRIBUTION – I hope some of these nuggets speak to you like they continue to speak to me:

  • “The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” His stress is on responsibility.”

    (Note: Peter Drucker lived from 1909-2005.  His writing and thoughts on management were visionary and clear and his observations from the 1970’s still represent some of the best thinking on ‘management’ I can find. I’ve left quotations as they were originally printed but wanted to recognize that his writing is very ‘male dominant’.)
  • “Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness. Without it, a man shortchanges himself, deprives his organization, and cheats the people he works with.”
  • “The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, “top management.” He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.”
  • “To ask, “What can I contribute?” is to look for the unused potential in the job. And what is considered excellent performance in a good many positions is often but a pale shadow of the job’s full potential of contribution.”
  • And another great guiding question, “What can I and no one else do which, if done really well, would make a real difference to this company?”

 

 

 

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Future Cities Accelerator

At For Impact | The Suddes Group we are committed to developing social entrepreneurs and emerging social leaders. For most of our work in this area, we partner with The Unreasonable Institute where we have been ‘Unreasonable Mentors’ to social entrepreneurs from all over the world for the past six years.

Unreasonable teamed up with the Rockefeller Foundation and together they’re launching The Future Cities Accelerator. This project exists to solve the challenges faced by poor or vulnerable populations living in U.S. cities.

We’re proud to play a big part in this project where 10 early stage ventures will be selected to take part in the the 5-day accelerator and receive $100K in grant funding. After the accelerator, The Suddes Group will provide 9 months of fundraising mentorship and assistance to make sure you have the resources to solve these challenges.

Learn more and apply!

 

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The Real Estate Questions You Need To Answer – At Altitude

In designing, managing and leading hundreds of ‘building campaigns’, these are questions we ask – at altitude:

30,000’ WHY?
VISION

  • Are we in the Re-Construction Biz or the Impact Biz?
  • What is the Purpose(s) of the ‘Space(s)’?
  • How does it relate to our Vision?
  • Have we dealt with the ‘Footprint’ & ‘Bubbles’ before Wall Coverings & FFE?
  • Do our Financial Goals match our Constituent’s Capacity?
  • Is this about ‘Ownership’ or ‘Control’?
  • How do we Share this Story (of Impact) vs. ‘Sell Recognition/Naming Rights?’
  • Have we explored Partnerships?  Multi-Use Facilities?  24/7?

14,000’ WHAT?
STRATEGY

  • Have we engaged all stakeholder groups to validate that we have the best solutions/plan?
  • Are there other cheaper and/or more creative real estate solutions to achieve our goal? If so, can we address why we’re not pursuing?
  • Have we looked at all Creative Financing Opportunities?
    • Debt/Mortgage?
    • Bonds?
    • Lease?
  • Are we telling the architects and planners what we want and need, what we can afford, how it fits… or are they telling us?
    • Cost per sq. ft. needs to fit our situation
    • Entire Project/Cost must enable our Case for Support

3’ HOW?
EXECUTION

  • Can this be divided into phases? (Both Building & Funding)
  • Can we take 3 to 5 Year Commitments? Do we need Bridge Financing or a Construction Loan?
  • Have we made Everything A Project? (within the Big Initiative)
  • Are there Projects (In-Kind Opportunities) to Maximize Gifts?

In sharing this, I also want to encourage leaders and readers to engage with us EARLY in the formative stages of a building project or strategy. By asking the right questions up front you can save time and money – but it’s not just about that – It’s about identifying the right solution and needs to help you with your impact!

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The Leadership Circle: Occam’s Ask

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming For Impact Guidebook about Leadership Circles.

Every organization should have some form of Leadership Circle. In its simplest form, this is ONE baseline-major-gift level of support, positioned as the cornerstone of your annual fund.   The Leadership Circle is not just another giving level – It’s a funding program and a strategic pillar of your funding model that qualifies prospects, simplifies stewardship, provides flexible funding and annuity!

You’ve heard of Occam’s Razor; this is ‘Occam’s Ask’. It’s set at ONE level between $1K and $10K – messaged around your mission and vision in a way that represents your simplest and strongest sell.

HOW TO MESSAGE: (Examples)

  • STORY: “We would like to invite you to be part of the Leadership Circle – a group of 100 families, individuals and/or businesses that are extremely committed to the mission of the YWCA. Membership requires a minimum $10,000 investment in the fund, renewable annually. Each year, these funds will be used to make the biggest impact in the areas of after school programming, innovation and scholarships. But, ultimately, The Leadership Circle is about investing in our vision to transform our community.”

  • COLLECTIVE IMPACT: “This Leadership Circle level is significant because the collective power of its members – providing the core funding support that allows the YWCA to be an efficient organization, responding to the most important needs of women and families in our community. Additionally, this Leadership Circle has the impact of $2M in endowment for each 10 members.”

In working with over 1,000 organizations, I can’t think of a time when an organization didn’t benefit from a Leadership Circle. As a tool, its versatility rivals duct tape.

A FEW WAYS TO USE THE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE:

  • As a QUALIFIER. The Leadership Circle can be a GREAT ASK on a first visit. The story around the Leadership Circle should be tied to your simplest and strongest sell and if someone commits the $10K then you KNOW they are serious about your impact.
  • As a component of your overall FUNDING MODEL and CASE.  It’s helpful for top funders to see that you’re building a base. This should offset the perception (and reality) that you’re going back to the well with the same funders again and again. It’s really helpful to be able to show (in your plan) that at the same time you are asking for LEADERSHIP SUPPORT, you are also building giving-based-relationships through the Leadership Circle.
  • As a MOMENTUM BUILDER.  If you’re working on leadership support for a major project the Leadership Circle can be a powerful momentum builder. It’s one thing to go to your board and announce you THINK you will have some leaders on board. It’s another to back that up with the cash flow and commitments from 20 new memberships in your Leadership Circle.
  • As an ANNUITY and ENDOWMENT EQUIVALENT.  The membership base of support becomes an annuity. For example, 20 families at $10K is $200K per year which is the equivalent of having $4M in endowment!
  • As a FOCUSED way to TEST and BUILD TALENT. Having a Leadership Circle offers a safety valve for new salespeople. “When you don’t know what else to do, ask for a membership.” This is a clarifying directive. Asking for a membership does not eliminate the potential for a larger gift – if anything it qualifies the relationship (offering objective insight to the sales manager.)

    If a new major gifts officer fails to close a $1M gift it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s a prospecting issue. Maybe it’s the story. However, anyone should be able to close Leadership Circle membership.

    Having developed dozens and dozens of new major gifts officers, I cannot emphasize the importance of this idea. It’s the simplest way to build confidence and funding momentum.
  • As an engagement strategy that PAYS. ‘Nuff said.
  • As a STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE. Get rid of all events and focus that energy on just providing stewardship and thanks to your Leadership Circle investors!  Here is an idea, make it someone’s job to simply get every member of the Leadership Circle to your organization to SEE the impact (return-on-investment) in a given year.  Good things will happen.
  • As ‘BUDGET RELIEF.’ Everyone wants ‘unrestricted funding’. A better message would be around budget relief. I would encourage you to try and create a funding model in which the Leadership Circle monies are unbudgeted. You can then report back to membership the IMPACT of their COLLECTIVE investment.
  • As a way to get into a PLANNED GIFT. Participation in the Leadership Circle for a few years offers a rationale to get ask for a planned gift to PROTECT the annual gift.  “You’ve been giving $10K every year as a member of the Leadership Circle. Could we ask you to PROTECT that with a gift from your estate?”  A $200K planned gift would ‘protect’ the $10K.

    Bonus: This can also be part of a TRIPLE ASK.
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The For Impact Workshop: New Locations Added

We’re hitting the road this fall!

Come see us at our For Impact Workshop: Fundraising on a Napkin in the following cities:

October 11, 2016 | Los Angeles, CA (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)
October 26, 2016 | Portsmouth, NH (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)
December 15, 2016 | Omaha, NE (Register using the code ficommunity for $100 off)

WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

Fundraising on a Napkin summarizes 30 years of fundraising achievement into simple, bold and actionable ideas that any organization can use – Non Profit, For Profit, Social Entrepreneur or NGO.

Whether you’re looking for strategic clarity, ‘sustainable funding,’ a jumpstart in major giving or just no-fluff advice that works – Fundraising on a Napkin delivers on all fronts.  Over 3.5 hours, we will share stories ‘from the field’ and the successful and innovative ideas that have transformed thousands of organizations and raised over $2B, including:

  • How to get strategic clarity
  • How to simplify your message and communicate the vision
  • How to find and engage with great leaders, prospects and champions
  • How to build a high performing leadership team
  • How to build an effective culture around funding the vision
  • How to ask

This high energy, motivating session will give you a road map you can follow to re-design (or design) your organization for impact and income success.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  1. Example-based coaching throughout the day
  2. Lots of interaction so you don’t get bored – this is not one of ‘those’ workshops
  3. Proven frameworks and, to the extent that we’re able with time, one-on-one strategy to help you apply the frameworks
  4. No power point (see no. 2) but lots of visuals
  5. Simplicity.  Complexity is not actionable, so we give you the tools that will have the greatest R.O.I. to your organization in the near term (next 100 days) and longer term (next 1000 days.)
  6. Value that goes beyond funding! We’re all entrepreneurs, so while we always want to create value in the form of funding results, there is a huge personal development theme to everything we do.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

This workshop is for Executive Directors, Board Leaders and Development Professionals – Any and all responsible for shaping and implementing funding strategy.

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Download Audio: How To Make Your Story Awesome

Nick recorded a fantastic audio on a favorite topic: How To Make Your Story Awesome.

We are sharing the audio here for your listening pleasure – and we have only one small request! If you listen and find value, please take 2 minutes and send us your biggest takeaway.

As gratitude, we’ll send you a PDF of the Engagement Toolkit.

Audio Description:

How To Make Your Story Awesome.

The story you use to maximize funding…
The story that brings rockstar talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team…
The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled.

Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and everyday actions.
  • Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
  • Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
  • Do you have a story that engages the board as passionate champions and advocates?
This 45 minute audio will:
  • Share examples of stories used at organizations to address these questions.
  • How to overcome common challenges to funding, action and engagement.
  • Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.

Download audio call notes

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Register Now! The For Impact Workshop | Los Angeles | October 11

THE FOR IMPACT WORKSHOP: FUNDRAISING ON A NAPKIN

Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, October 11 8:30 AM – Noon PT 
Register here using the code ficommunity for $100 off

WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

Fundraising on a Napkin summarizes 30 years of fundraising achievement into simple, bold and actionable ideas that any organization can use – Non Profit, For Profit, Social Entrepreneur or NGO.

Whether you’re looking for strategic clarity, ‘sustainable funding,’ a jumpstart in major giving or just no-fluff advice that works… Fundraising on a Napkin delivers on all fronts.  Over 3.5 hours, we will share stories ‘from the field’ and the successful and innovative ideas that have transformed thousands of organizations and raised over $2B, including:

  • How to get strategic clarity
  • How to simplify your message and communicate the vision
  • How to find and engage with great leaders, prospects and champions
  • How to build a high performing leadership team
  • How to build an effective culture around funding the vision
  • How to ask

This high energy, motivating session will give you a road map you can follow to re-design (or design) your organization for impact and income success.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  1. Example-based coaching throughout the day
  2. Lots of interaction so you don’t get bored – this is not one of ‘those’ workshops
  3. Proven frameworks and, to the extent that we’re able with time, one-on-one strategy to help you apply the frameworks
  4. No power point (see no. 2) but lots of visuals
  5. Simplicity.  Complexity is not actionable, so we give you the tools that will have the greatest R.O.I. to your organization in the near term (next 100 days) and longer term (next 1000 days.)
  6. Value that goes beyond funding! We’re all entrepreneurs, so while we always want to create value in the form of funding results, there is a hige personal development theme to everything we do.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

This workshop is for Executive Directors, Board Leaders and Development Professionals – Any and all responsible for shaping and implementing funding strategy.

 

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No More Special Events: A Look At The WHY

Tom has stood on podiums (literally) for 30 years and shouted NO MORE SPECIAL EVENTS

This works as a napkin message – It’s powerful and simple.

I don’t do the ‘standing-on-a-podium’ thing, but I’m not above shouting IN ALL CAPS to make a point:

NO MORE SPECIAL EVENTS!

I get the occasional challenge, “But Nick, events are how we build relationships!”  Or, “Our event gets the word out!”

In years and years of doing this, no one has ever said, “Our event is our CASH COW!”

WHY are you doing the event?  Is it to raise money? Or, is it for MARKETING? (Start with WHY.)

It’s really helpful to make a distinction between MARKETING and SALES. Here is a great nugget to bridge the relationship between MARKETING and SALES:

It is the job of marketing to provide qualified leads for sales.

I hear many people who want to defend events with a marketing rationale. If you want to run events as a part of your MARKETING STRATEGY – great! Just don’t PRETEND your events are great fundraisers. And if MARKETING is the end goal, then how much are you telling your story at that golf outing?

Also, if you’re going to do an event to ‘BUILD relationships’ then it begs the question – what is your strategy to MAXIMIZE relationships?

NB: We’ve been on this rant for a few decades now. There are events that raise money – a lot of (net, net, net) money. Here are some examples:

  1. The EVENT is the IMPACT. There are some organizations whose impact is using a community’s ability to raise money. For example, Pelotonia here in Central Ohio, which has raised over $100M for cancer research. They are in the event business: the money they raise from one event a year is given directly to cancer research (read: curing cancer!). Pelotonia is in the EVENT BUSINESS – most organizations (i.e., you) are not.

  2. But what about WALL STREET?!?! Those ‘guys’ (I think, often citing Robin Hood as a model) all get in a room and give MILLIONS! This is an anomaly, not a model.  When you can get a bunch of hedge fund titans in a room to throw their egos behind your philanthropy, have at it!

  3. RECOGNITION EVENTS.  These are events where the money was not raised, but simply RECOGNIZED, at the event. In all of these cases, I submit that more money could be raised if we were clearer on the WHY.  While the organization might be ASKING because of an event, people aren’t GIVING because of the event; they are giving because of the IMPACT!
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Story: Played Out in General Election Cycles

41G4UZjjg2LOne of my go-to books on STORY and INFLUENCE is The Story Factor by Annette Simmons.  First published in 2001, Simmons did a wonderful job pulling together frameworks and practical examples that illustrate how influence happens (or not) through the power of framing (i.e. STORY.)

It’s really powerful to pull some nuggets from this book during a general election cycle – Think about these points the next time you’re arguing politics with your relatives!  (Good luck!)

“A good story helps you influence the interpretation people give to facts.  Facts aren’t influential until they mean something to someone.  A story delivers a context so that your facts slide into new slots in your listener’s brains.  If you don’t give them a new story, they will simply slide new facts to old slots.  People already have many stories they tell themselves to interpret their experiences.  No matter what your message, they will search their memory banks until they find a story that fits for them.”

“Whenever you tell a story that contradicts someone’s core story they will usually get angry. This is a natural defense. Understanding anger is an important part of telling influential stories… If you choose to tell empowering stories you will encounter anger as people defend their ‘victim stories.’ When a new story demands courage, extra effort, or invalidates past choices, people usually get defensive.”

“Facts don’t have the power to change someone’s story. Their story is more powerful than your facts. As a person of influence, your goal is to introduce a new story that will let your facts in.”

“The beauty of story is its ability to last in memory long after the facts and figures are gone.”

“In the end, the best story wins. Not the right story, not even the most frequently told story, but the story that means the most to the greatest number of people—the one that is remembered. Lawyers know that. In the courtroom, diagrams, passionate language, exhibits, and the art of questioning witnesses are orchestrated to tell the story a lawyer wants told. A storytelling lawyer activates the emotions and senses of a jury and invokes the power of drama to influence the decision. The timing and style of a prosecution attorney walking ‘the murder weapon’ around the room can ignite the fears, horrors, and imaginations of the jury. They may be consciously concerned about the facts, but their subconscious mind is watching that gun and playing a story they imagine might have happened complete with screams, blood, and emotion. If this ‘story’ becomes real enough for them, they will find the facts to fit the story their subconscious already believes.”

This last part is worth summarizing: The best story wins. People will find facts to fit their ‘story.’

 

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